August 30, 2011

HOCD and Emotional Contamination

I’ve had a pretty good week.  Of course, I’m at the beginning of my menstrual cycle, and I’m usually pretty good during this time.  I am convinced that there is a correlation between hormones, menstruation cycles, and OCD flare ups.  Of course, there are many other things that cause my OCD to flare up, but PMS is definitely one of them.  It’s amazing how – at this point in my cycle – I have such an ability to just let the thoughts go.  Not only that – I seem to be able to gain perspective SO MUCH QUICKER.  This frustrates me to no end – the fact that I can’t “get to the bottom” of it, and somehow find a way to control my hormones such that I can get my OCD under control.  Anyway – I have no choice but to continue to put one foot in front of the other, and do my best despite PMS and other stressors. 

Even though I’m not doing any “formal” ERP at the moment, watching my Mom fight such a courageous battle with cancer at the end of her life has inspired me to do whatever I can during this hectic time to battle my OCD.  I have vowed to my therapist that I am really doing my BEST to not compulse.  For me, this means, not avoiding, not analyzing, not reassuring myself and a few other things.  I am happy to report that I’ve had some “wins”!  The biggest one for me was re-kindling my relationship with my cousin who – in the past – was like a sister to me.  However, she went through a divorce (ramped up my ROCD), and she is very psychodynamic-leaning (ramps up my HOCD – maybe it’s not OCD, but denial?), so in the last few years since my big OCD flare up, I have done everything I can to avoid her.  In the last month or so – since my mom became very ill, she and I have spent a lot of time on the phone (we now live across the country from each other), and she has been very supportive.  Heck, we’ve even had some great “analyzing” conversations, and I survived!  (These types of conversations used to be huge triggers for me.)  The thing that I notice about some of these successes is that they tend to build on themselves.  It’s amazing how, after a few “wins”, my confidence increases and so does my perspective. 

I’ve been thinking about my avoidance compulsion a lot though, and why it is that I tend to avoid people like my cousin, who is very open-minded, and psychodynamic-leaning.  It’s not that they are gay themselves, so it’s not like I am afraid of “catching” her sexuality.  I think what it is though, is that I am afraid of becoming like her, or starting to think like her, which, in turn, might make me gay.  I’m sure to those of you who are reading this post that DON’T have OCD probably think this sounds outrageous.  Those of you who have OCD probably get it.  It’s the same thing as becoming physically contaminated.  But this has a different name – I think it’s called “emotional contamination”.  I’m afraid that their values, beliefs, personality traits etc might rub off on me.    

I did a bit of research about this type of compulsion, and pretty much all I could find is this article.  I plan on discussing this more with my therapist, but wow – I continue to learn more and more each day about this puzzle that I call my OCD. 

What does everyone else think?  Do you suffer from emotional contamination? 

August 26, 2011

Canadian OCD Network

So.....we had a meeting with about 15 other Canadians while we were at the IOCDF conference in San Diego.  Dr. Evelyn Stewart and I have started a new group.....called The Canadian OCD Network.  Dr. Stewart is AWESOME!  I am so excited about what we are going to do together....with a lot of other fantastic, committed people. 

I will fill you in on more of the details later, but I wanted to let you know that yesterday - about 24 hours ago, I started a Facebook page for the Canadian OCD Network.  We've already got 18 fans!  Holy....I am so excited to see where this goes. 

Click here to become a fan of the Canadian OCD Network.  You don't have to be from Canada.  The more the merrier.  :o)  Watch us grow!!! 

P.S.  Thanks to the IOCDF for their support while we establish ourselves and get our footing! 

August 25, 2011

All over the place....

I am all over the place these days.  Some days my OCD is "good", some days it's horrible.  Some days I am filled with sadness about my Mom, others I am coping OK.  Some days I feel hopeful, others I feel utterly discouraged.  The past couple of days has been pretty good....for some reason I felt inspired to fight my OCD....inspiration I haven't felt in a long time. But I don't feel particularly passionate about....well....anything at the moment.  I'm pretty tired. 

I promised that I would post about a few things - one of them being the book I read called "The Woman who Thought too Much".  So I think I'll tackle that post, because I can't seem to get inspired to talk about much else. 

In true obsessive fashion, I am always looking for new books to read about OCD, whether it be a memoir, or new self-help book (with basically the same message, but said in a different way).  I am quite sure that I've read every book published on OCD - at least every book published within the last 15 years.  I found this book on Amazon, and knew it was written by someone from the UK who had Pure O, so was excited to order it and start reading. 

"The Woman who Thought too Much" is written by Joanne Limburg.  Has anyone else read it?  Joanne is a poet, and she has suffered from OCD since a young child.  She also suffers from Dermatilomania and depression (who - with OCD DOESN'T have depression?).  The book does a great job of articulating what it is like to suffer from Pure O OCD, while still trying to cope with everyday life.  Interestingly enough, Joanne has her masters in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, and spent years receiving "Freudian" psychotherapy, which did nothing to help her "scary thoughts" and compulsive behaviour.

I don't want to give away the plot, but it is an interesting story of someone who suffers for years, goes through many, many therapists, and still doesn't get any better.  The story is told with a touch of cynicism and the wit of a Brit (which I love).   

Would I recommend the book?  Yes.  I recommend all memoirs written by someone with OCD....there just aren't enough of them out there!  One word of caution though - don't expect a happy ending.  This definitely isn't a story about someone who has OCD, finds appropriate treatment, does ERP and lives happily ever after.  Perhaps that's one thing I found refreshing about the story - it probably more accurately describes what most of us with OCD go through....struggling to find the right treatment, good and bad OCD periods, hesitation to do ERP, etc etc.  The story is definitely REAL.    

If anyone has read, or reads "The Woman who Thought too much" in the future, I'd love to know what you think! 

P.S.  Too tired to check this post for spelling errors.....

August 18, 2011

OCD Therapy Insights

I’m still having my weekly therapy sessions, even though my ERP is on hold at the moment.  Today we talked about OCD and shame.  It came up because I posted something on the Pure O Yahoo Support Board in response to someone’s comment that people with aggressive, sexual and religious OCD are worried about, or trying to prevent shame.  My initial reaction was “I don’t think I’m worried about feeling shame in being a lesbian.  I don’t think there’s shame in being gay.”  My therapist and I talked about it though, and my thoughts have changed. 

One thing I am definitely ashamed of is the fact that I have OCD.  As I’ve said in previous posts - very few people in my life know that I have OCD, let alone the content of my obsessions.  There’s something “different” for people who have sexual obsessions, I think.  It’s hard to articulate, but let’s put it this way: if someone with violent obsessions was to say they worry that they might snap and suddenly kill everyone in the room, most people would laugh and quickly realize that the fear was completely opposite of the OCD sufferers true nature.  Though the sufferer might not have the insight to realize this, others on the outside could clearly identify the lack of consistency with the person’s true nature.  On the other hand, with sexual and relationship obsessions, if I were to tell someone that I worry that I might be a lesbian in denial, or that someday I will just suddenly fall in love with a woman, most people would probably respond: “That might be the case – maybe you should explore the idea.”  Do you see the difference?  This is one of the big reasons that I don’t share the content of my obsessions.

Anyway – I was explaining to my therapist that I think I really can understand how people who are gay and living “in the closet” feel.  I can understand the shame that accompanies feeling like you can’t live a completely honest life with everyone around you.  And I think that probably perpetuates my ROCD and HOCD.  Why? Because my OCD latches on to those feelings of guilt, dishonesty, and shame and likes to tell me that I’m feeling these feelings NOT because I’m living inside the “OCD Closet”, but because I’m living inside the “lesbian closet”.  Every time I read a coming out story that is full of angst and fear and loneliness, my OCD says “See?  That’s you.  You have those feelings too!  You must be a lesbian!”

I’ve taken some big, bold steps to come out of the “OCD closet” in the last several months.  I’ve started writing this blog, I post regularly on the Pure O Yahoo support board, I went to the OCD convention, and I am working with others to start a Canadian OCD Network.  But I am a long way from BEING OUT AND BEING PROUD.  I don’t quite know how this will all unravel, but one of my goals for recovering from OCD is to be open and authentic with my challenges regarding this disorder.  The truth shall set you free. 

P.S.  Of course in the back of my mind I always fear that I will come out of the “OCD closet” and then will suddenly realize that I was wrong, I didn’t have OCD all along and I really was a lesbian in denial.  :o)  Gotta love OCD. 

August 11, 2011

So much to say....

These days I'm in "crisis mode".  Not OCD crisis mode - REAL crisis mode.  I've been wanting to take a few moments to update everyone, and I have a few other things that I want to write about so I'll throw some stuff down and hopefully soon I'll have the time, energy etc to write some more. 

Just over three weeks ago my mom moved into palliative care at the hospital and my family shifted into a new stage.  I made arrangements at work so that I could spend as much time with my mom as possible.  So for the last few weeks, I've been staying at their house on Vancouver Island for about four days, then traveling back to Vancouver to work.  I'm exhausted, but I really wouldn't have it any other way.  My mom refuses to accept that she is dying, and is as courageous and stronger than anyone I've ever met.  (Why didn't I get those genes???) Call it denial, call it whatever you want - the most important thing is that SHE'S HAPPY in her dying days (weeks?).  We've been so lucky - she's had friends and family flocking to her bedside from across the country.  It's been busy....distracting.  We haven't had a lot of quiet moments to think about what life will be like after she is gone.  I think - for the most part - I'm actually living in the moment!  Our time together with family and friends has been full of a lot of laughter and reminiscing.  Looking at old family albums, and telling old stories.  Considering the reality of the situation - I would say it's the best case scenario. 

I have so much to write about....the OCD Conference - WOW - what an experience! It was the first time I was surrounded by people who actually knew that I have OCD.  For the first day, while walking around the conference, I felt completely naked.  Great exposure for me!  I had really mixed feelings based on my experiences at the conference.  More about that later. 

I want to give my review about a book I read written by a woman living in the UK.  It's called "The Woman who Thought too much".  That will be another post. 

And I want to give you an update on my OCD.  Obviously at this point ERP is on hold.  I'm still seeing my therapist, and I am very grateful for his support.  I'm still doing my best not to compulse and avoid things.  I'm also very thankful for all of my blogging friends' support.  I have no idea what lies ahead for me on this journey of saying goodbye to my mom.  I'm just putting one foot in front of the other.